Johnson: Wall caps Wizards wild night

Johnson: Wall caps Wizards wild night
January 23, 2011, 2:46 am
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Saturday January 22, 2011 9:36 p.m.


By Dave Johnson
CSNWashignton.comWashington---To beat the Boston Celtics, Washington Wizards head coach Flip Saunders said before Saturdays game at sold-out Verizon Center that his team would have to be aggressive and play with passion. The message was clearly received as the Wizards survived a disastrous start to defeat the Celtics 85-83.When we play defense, we give ourselves a chance to play anybody, said Saunders Our defense was great in the second half. We did a better job, we took advantages of some mismatches and I found out that John has a great bank shot from the three-point line.With the shot clock winding down, John Wall banked a desperation three point shot off the glass from 27 feet to give the Wizards an 84-81 advantage with 57 seconds left in the game. It was the Wizards only made three-pointer of the night as they went 1 for 9 beyond the arc.I didnt call it, but I knew it was going to hit backboard but I thought it was going to be a hard brick, Wall admitted. It could have broken the backboard, but it went in for us and it was a game changer. We went up three and it was a big turning point for us.That lone Wizards three pointer turned out to be critical after Kevin Garnetts easy layup brought the Celtics to within one point at 84-83 with 40 seconds remaining. Garnetts layup was then followed by a Rajon Rondo steal of John Wall, but Paul Pierce missed a 16 foot jump shot with four-tenths of a second left to essentially end the Celtics five-game winning streak.It was Wall who had given the Wizards their first lead of the game at 81-79 when he finished a fast break layup after a missed three-point attempt by Ray Allen. Wall had 8 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter when the Wizards managed to outscore the Celtics 15-11.The fourth quarter was about grit and determination for both teams. The Celtics had one possession when they grabbed four offensive rebounds but failed to score. With the game either tied or the Wizards only down by one point, the Wizards missed six shots and committed two turnovers.That was a physical game, noted Saunders. Every screen guys were bouncing all over the place. I think at that point (fourth quarter) both teams were just exhausted.On the season the Celtics are shooting 50 percent from the field and against the Wizards they opened the game by shooting 68 percent in the first quarter. In the games first 12 minutes the Celtics outscored the Wizards 35-20 when Ray Allen poured in 10 of his 16 points.The scoring pace then slowed for the Celtics, who ended up shooting only 43 percent from the field. Garnett led the Celtics with 17 points but Pierce only had 12 points and Allen missed 7 of his final 9 shot attempts. Pierce had trouble dealing with the Wizards Rashard Lewis, while Nick Young was tenacious against Allen.While busy with Allen, Young could never get his offense going and made only one field goal in 13 attempts. Lewis led the Wizards with 18 points and 11 rebounds while Andray Blatche played through early frustration against Garnett to add 11 points punctuated by a driving dunk to tie the game at 79.The Wizards had to go without Kirk Hinirch, who suffered a hyper-extended right elbow in the fourth quarter of Fridays loss to the Suns. The Wizards signed former Arizona guard Mustafa Shakur from Rio Grande of theD-League and he spelled Wall with 5 points and 5 assists in 10 minutes.